Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Subdude

Sears South Main

Recommended Posts

Ahh, the memories of getting all dressed up to take a family trip to Sears on Main or even further down to Foley's...

I think the drive to Sears was as much fun as actually getting inside the store. In those days, we happily hung our heads out of the car windows and we were never told to buckle up or sit back, this was our treat.

I can remember my mom getting out her aligator shoes with bag to match and even a hat. We put on out pretty little dresses with petticoats, white ruffle socks and patent leather shoes. Now you see families in jeans, pull overs and the kiddies are wearing flip flops. Take me back to the days when our mothers had to starch our clothes, this was before permanent press, a new fangled invention.

I can still smell the popcorn...

These pics were taken from http://www.houstondeco.org

1939

2q87kmu.jpg

2006

rr8ky8.jpg

Thnx Dan...

2863125756_bf2e06f1c7_o.jpg

Added sevfiv's storm pic from above post to see all pics side by side...

Oh....the possibilities of that bldg. As mentioned above, also read a Sears article recently that stated that the corporation isn't in such good financial shape.

Are all three pics from the same intersection?

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The post-storm picture was taken looking north from Main St. at Wheeler. The 2006 photo is looking south toward Wheeler from Fannin. From the different heights of the building, the 1939 photo appears to be taken at the same angle as the post-storm photograph.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thnx sevfiv for the clarification of intersections, the height of the bldgs is what got me to wondering. They don't match up in all three pics. I agree with you.

I find it ironic, after reading this whole thread again, that Sears is owned by Kmart. The Sears located in Pasadena stood on land that is now a Walmart. Maybe Kmart sold it to them. :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rsb320, My sentiments exactly...I loved that era. Never realized til now that there was a stairway outside leading to a second story balcony/patio. Nice...even had ornamental trees. Was this the smoking area? :D Or was the whole store a smoking area? I know the postcard was an architectural rendering, wonder if the store actually had that patio. :lol: I wonder a lot.

You could smoke in dept. stores until sometime in the early 80's or late 70's. It was probably an area for concessions like ice cream cones and snoballz - those would not have been allowed in finer anything wear.

Notice that the B&W and Colorized shots are taken from different angles/corners. The B&W appears to be the southwest side and the color, the northwest side. Therefore, the balcony would have been a wrap around. Cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You could smoke in dept. stores until sometime in the early 80's or late 70's. It was probably an area for concessions like ice cream cones and snoballz - those would not have been allowed in finer anything wear.

Notice that the B&W and Colorized shots are taken from different angles/corners. The B&W appears to be the southwest side and the color, the northwest side. Therefore, the balcony would have been a wrap around. Cool.

Cool...The Lisa Grey article mentioned above somewhere states that A.C. Finn, a well-known Houston architect who designed the Coliseum & Music Hall had influence in the Sears store design. Chicago architects Nimmons, Carr & Wright are credited along with Finn, but Finns style is so obvious in the style of the bldg. One early b/w Sears picture shown in the Art Deco link above shows a canopy extending over part of the balcony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Notice that the B&W and Colorized shots are taken from different angles/corners. The B&W appears to be the southwest side and the color, the northwest side. Therefore, the balcony would have been a wrap around. Cool.

You're correct about the B&W photo taken of the SW corner, but I think the color shot is of the NE corner, since there was a parking area on the north side of the building between the main store and the auto repair center that was once there. That would be Fannin on the left of the store in the color picture. Locations are assuming that Main and Fannin run North-South.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You're correct about the B&W photo taken of the SW corner, but I think the color shot is of the NE corner, since there was a parking area on the north side of the building between the main store and the auto repair center that was once there. That would be Fannin on the left of the store in the color picture. Locations are assuming that Main and Fannin run North-South.

This one is from the north east corner. I'm pretty sure the colorized pic is from Main St. on the NW corner with the parking lot extending to the left toward Fannin. Notice the parking lot light poles.

rr8ky8.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This one is from the north east corner. I'm pretty sure the colorized pic is from Main St. on the NW corner with the parking lot extending to the left toward Fannin. Notice the parking lot light poles.

That's the color shot I made reference to. I guess you were talking about the postcard picture of Sears. That is the NW corner. Sorry about the confusion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is another quick reference to the Sears stores, found in the Houston Deco link: starts with the older store built in 1929, click on "a new Art Moderne store" words to see the new 1939 store, lists facades with Fannin & S. Main addresses: http://www.houstondeco.org/1920s/sears.html

I hadn't realized that the Chicago architects designed the first location (off Allen Parkway), as well as the *second one (* Houston architect A.C. Finn also designed). The second store location took into account the increasing popularity of the automobile, had ample parking.

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it still boarded up like that? I don't believe such a bleak and dilapidated store will be able to stay open for long. Maybe Wal-Mart or Target should purchase it since they're both more likely to restore buildings to their art deco facades.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it still boarded up like that? I don't believe such a bleak and dilapidated store will be able to stay open for long. Maybe Wal-Mart or Target should purchase it since they're both more likely to restore buildings to their art deco facades.

not sure i've ever seen walmart and artdeco in the same sentence.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it still boarded up like that? I don't believe such a bleak and dilapidated store will be able to stay open for long. Maybe Wal-Mart or Target should purchase it since they're both more likely to restore buildings to their art deco facades.

Don't say that :( ...how about Rice University buy the bldg. since they own the land. The 1950's Sears store location in Pasadena has a new generic Walmart sitting on it. The South Main Sears store was much grander than the Pasadena 1950's store was. It's a diamond in the rough. It will just kill me if it falls.

Question: When was the Harrisburg at Wayside (East Side) Sears built? Was it at the same time as the Garden Oaks (North Side)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
not sure i've ever seen walmart and artdeco in the same sentence.

I'm surprised you've never heard of the store in Baldwin Hills. I think it was an old Macy's from the 1940s.

275896018_d71db84758.jpg?v=0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it still boarded up like that? I don't believe such a bleak and dilapidated store will be able to stay open for long. Maybe Wal-Mart or Target should purchase it since they're both more likely to restore buildings to their art deco facades.

Urgh, they've installed shiny metal siding over the windows and doors. Are they just messing with us?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm surprised you've never heard of the store in Baldwin Hills.
nah......not really a walmart shopper. where are the other art deco walmarts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was completely shocking when in the Centro Historico district of Mexico City.

Lord and behold there was a Sears Dept store that was completely original Art Deco! I did not have time to go inside but they did update the displays but to my utter amazement exterior and interior light fixtures and sconces all seemed original! I SHOULD have taken a pic but maybe someting is on google?

Woah! I am pretty sure this was it! It was a trip back in time (as was most of this area) The store was jam packed with crowds, just the way our own downtown used to be in the day. Yes, this is it we were just 2-3 blocks from this maddening crowd. Was like the Latin version of NYC. :)

68545942.Gz1NGAgm.jpg

157233849_8dd6373640.jpg?v=0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm surprised you've never heard of the store in Baldwin Hills. I think it was an old Macy's from the 1940s.

275896018_d71db84758.jpg?v=0

That building must be located in a Historic District, or have some sort of historical protection that prevents its demolition. Wal-Mart must have wanted the location bad enough to occupy the space. Typically, large commercial businesses will demolish existing buildings, so they can construct facilities that more closely reflect their branding.

The old Main St. Sears is not protected by any law that prevents its demolition. If Wal-Mart or another corporate chain bought the building, it would probably be toast.

Edited by Dan the Man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How shockingly modest. There's also an old Art Deco Sears in California near Santa Monica Place (http://www.labelscar.com/california/santa-monica-place).

Even if the Art Deco is restored, it's still going to be the same old Sears inside...Craftsman tools, a large apparel section, jewelry, etc.

What did Sears have in the "olde days" that it does not have now?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How shockingly modest. There's also an old Art Deco Sears in California near Santa Monica Place (http://www.labelscar.com/california/santa-monica-place).

Even if the Art Deco is restored, it's still going to be the same old Sears inside...Craftsman tools, a large apparel section, jewelry, etc.

What did Sears have in the "olde days" that it does not have now?

IMO - If that building is restored it will most likely not be by Sears Roebuck & Co. They are not doing so well financially. I would like to see it turned into something functional, hotel, university apartments, etc.

From my own experience, I would say they don't have very good customer service, not like it used to be. When I tried to reach a service dept. representative, I could never get a person on the phone line. Ever. I was not impressed. I stopped going there years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IMO - If that building is restored it will most likely not be by Sears Roebuck & Co. They are not doing so well financially. I would like to see it turned into something functional, hotel, university apartments, etc.

From my own experience, I would say they don't have very good customer service, not like it used to be. When I tried to reach a service dept. representative, I could never get a person on the phone line. Ever. I was not impressed. I stopped going there years ago.

The South Main store?

I posted the picture of the Wal-Mart because, while I don't like the company, I think what they did there was pretty friggin awesome. They even adapted their logo to the style. It makes wonder if the rest of the store is like that. From what I've heard, Wal-Mart wanted to build a store in Los Angeles for some time, but the neighborhood associations kept driving them away. The old store was a compromise.

Sears has been replaced by Target and Wal-Mart so it makes sense that one of them would use the store. Target also has a history of remodeling old stores instead of abandoning them.

Edited by westguy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The South Main store?

I posted the picture of the Wal-Mart because, while I don't like the company, I think what they did there was pretty friggin awesome. They even adapted their logo to the style. It makes wonder if the rest of the store is like that. From what I've heard, Wal-Mart wanted to build a store in Los Angeles for some time, but the neighborhood associations kept driving them away. The old store was a compromise.

Sears has been replaced by Target and Wal-Mart so it makes sense that one of them would use the store. Target also has a history of remodeling old stores instead of abandoning them.

Oh, Yes, the South Main store.

Your story is interesting, I had never heard of Target or Wal-mart using older bldgs. for their stores. Don't know of any in this city, in fact Target & Wal-mart frequently choose to build new facilities on different lots, probably because they need more space for Super-Sized stores.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IMO - If that building is restored it will most likely not be by Sears Roebuck & Co. They are not doing so well financially. I would like to see it turned into something functional, hotel, university apartments, etc.

From my own experience, I would say they don't have very good customer service, not like it used to be. When I tried to reach a service dept. representative, I could never get a person on the phone line. Ever. I was not impressed. I stopped going there years ago.

I think it would be cooler, though, if it was restored, to be a new concept by Sears, actually reintroducing the old dept. store feel. It's not gonna happen, though. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Oh, Yes, the South Main store.

Your story is interesting, I had never heard of Target or Wal-mart using older bldgs. for their stores. Don't know of any in this city, in fact Target & Wal-mart frequently choose to build new facilities on different lots, probably because they need more space for Super-Sized stores.

The Target in the Crossroads Center in San Antonio (actually Balcones Heights) is a former Wards store. That mall, of course, is also the former Wonderland Mall. Likewise, there is a Target in San Diego's Mission Valley Center mall in a former Wards. Neither of these were cool old art-deco buildings, of course, more like aging 1960s facilities, and they (and their malls) do not retain the 60s look.

Edited by bsienk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Target in the Crossroads Center in San Antonio (actually Balcones Heights) is a former Wards store. That mall, of course, is also the former Wonderland Mall. Likewise, there is a Target in San Diego's Mission Valley Center mall in a former Wards. Neither of these were cool old art-deco buildings, of course, more like aging 1960s facilities, and they (and their malls) do not retain the 60s look.

Wrong. The Wards at Crossroads of San Antonio was partially demolished to make way for a brand-new SuperTarget, and the old Wards is actually a conference center now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find it ironic, after reading this whole thread again, that Sears is owned by Kmart.

Then you'll enjoy this tidbit:

In Canada, Sears is not controlled by the American Sears, though Sears in America is attempting a takeover.

Whereas in America Sears is a notch above Wal-Mart, in Canada Sears is considered on par with Saks Fifth Avenue and carries many of the same brands exclusively.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Then you'll enjoy this tidbit:

In Canada, Sears is not controlled by the American Sears, though Sears in America is attempting a takeover.

Whereas in America Sears is a notch above Wal-Mart, in Canada Sears is considered on par with Saks Fifth Avenue and carries many of the same brands exclusively.

Got that feeling after spending a bit of time in Canada. Hudson's "The Bay" is one other dept. store I am familiar with.

Also noticed the Sears stores were different after looking at the Sears Christmas Wish Books on Ebay a while back. Noticed Ebay sellers always specified whether the catalogs were Canadian or American versions.

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

]

How shockingly modest. There's also an old Art Deco Sears in California near Santa Monica Place (http://www.labelscar.com/california/santa-monica-place).

Even if the Art Deco is restored, it's still going to be the same old Sears inside...Craftsman tools, a large apparel section, jewelry, etc.

What did Sears have in the "olde days" that it does not have now?

In 1953 they sold cars. The "Allstate"

post-3141-1222565824_thumb.jpg

post-3141-1222566198_thumb.jpg

Edited by plumber2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There's also an old Art Deco Sears in California near Santa Monica Place

I cant believe it is still there! Used to catch my bus to Venice just across the street! Small world it is. The beach (and S Monica Pier is just about 4 blocks away)

sears-santa-monica-06.jpg

sears-santa-monica-01.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Checked out the Sears (exterior) on Main yesterday...have to say I understand why so many people make negative comments about it. It's in such poor shape, can't understand why Sears has allowed it to stand for so long (although I'm glad they have), while they were so quick to gut the other Sears stores I grew up going to. Guess it has to do with the leasing of the land from Rice, and probably the revenue it brings in. I noticed that the store was fairly busy with customers. Looked like the "A" was the only letter remaining on the one Art Deco sign, protruding from the brick. Hopefully the other letters are laying on the awning below. The balcony area has some hidious cheap-looking plastic or glass, frosted, paneled sunroom looking thing on it. Poor building, tasteless patches everywhere. :( I can still see what it was.

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My father worked at the S. Main Sears from 1947 to 1965. He was manager of the Farm Store and then the buyer for the Farm Stores and Garden Shops in Houston before transferring to Dallas in 1965.

I practically grew up at that store. I don't recall the building being refaced before we moved to Dallas in 1965, but I do recall my mother talking about how bad it looked when they visited there in 1968. The 1968 date for the refacing may be correct.

The "Open t 9" sign was used when the store was open late. In the '50s, the normal closing time was 6pm but on two days a week (Tues and Thurs I think)it was open until 9pm and the sign was turned on.

The taller section of the store was where the executive and Houston Merchandising Group offices were located.

The Farm and Garden Shop was located across the street from the main store on Fanin. In the '50s they sold tombstones. When they closed the sales office for tombstones, my father took the desk and chair home. I am typing this while sitting at that desk.

The chimes/dings in the store were pages. The store had a switchboard operator answering the phone and when a call came in for a department, she would page the department with a chime code. A sales person would pickup the phone (a direct line to the operator) and the operator would connect the call.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Has Sears replaced the missing siding yet?

The siding hasn't been replaced - with the normal upkeep of the store, I doubt it ever will be..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here's a picture of Sears, S. Main in better days, with balcony trees. You can also see that there were at least two of those skinny "Art Deco" lettering Sears signs, in the beginning. Sears (see bottom photo) : http://texashistory.unt.edu/permalink/meta-pth-5865:79

Notice how rough the road is, it's in bad shape.

Thanks, never seen that photo before. Where was "Doctors' Row" (in the first picture)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks, never seen that photo before. Where was "Doctors' Row" (in the first picture)?

Don't know, the photos seem to be scattered in between chapters that don't exactly correlate to them. Couldn't find an explanation or location for Doctors Row. The index doesn't list it either. The pics in that book link are very good, though. You can view them all at once, and just jump to each photo.

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks, never seen that photo before. Where was "Doctors' Row" (in the first picture)?

I took a moment to Google "Doctors Row Houston" & found it in Houston, A History & Guide. You can download the entire file of this WPA guide--mine is a PDF. Yup, Doctors' Row is mentioned. Along with lots of other stuff.

Sorry, I don't have a quick answer. Getting into this book will take far too much time. (Surely, somebody here's linked it previously?) There are pictures & maps....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I took a moment to Google "Doctors Row Houston" & found it in Houston, A History & Guide. You can download the entire file of this WPA guide--mine is a PDF. Yup, Doctors' Row is mentioned. Along with lots of other stuff.

Sorry, I don't have a quick answer. Getting into this book will take far too much time. (Surely, somebody here's linked it previously?) There are pictures & maps....

Thanks for the link Mags, I love this stuff. I can't stop reading it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don't know, the photos seem to be scattered in between chapters that don't exactly correlate to them. Couldn't find an explanation or location for Doctors Row. The index doesn't list it either. The pics in that book link are very good, though. You can view them all at once, and just jump to each photo.

Maggie, that's the same book & link mentioned earlier. I've known about the book on-line for awhile now, scanned over the chapters on several occasions, but could never find any explanation for Doctors Row, maybe you guys will have better luck! It's probably in there somewhere. The maps are also very interesting. This research can be very time-consuming.

Sorry, guess we are straying off topic. Maybe it was located close to the Main St. Sears, may be why they are on the same page in the book, just a guess.

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

post-5666-1234569245_thumb.jpg

111739_Houston_TX_Store_Exterior.pdf I'd done some research on the South Main Sears address when it was still a residence of Howard Hughes' former partner. The house was later used as a shared office - John Staub was there for a while. Here's a photo I found deep in my email.

I took a pic from the googleearth the other day, I think it's the same angle, not such a clear pic, though. Can someone verify the angle? You're picture is awesome, tcp, thanks for sharing. There looks like, in the historicaeriels maps, that in 1964 or the 1950's one, that there was some kind of Sears auto facility on half of that parking lot, would have fronted Eagle st. On second thought, I may be wrong, there's no posts on the foreground bldg. What bldg is that, in the b/w pic?

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

tcp, in your research, did you run across a date of sale (of the land) to William Marsh Rice? I'm assuming he bought the land at one time, since it now belongs to Rice University. Sears just leases, from what I've heard on the grapevine. ^_^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tcp, in your research, did you run across a date of sale (of the land) to William Marsh Rice? I'm assuming he bought the land at one time, since it now belongs to Rice University. Sears just leases, from what I've heard on the grapevine. ^_^

Nena, I'm not aware of the current owner(s). My research didn't go past the sale to Sears from the Sharp family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...